Brakes Scotland Student Hospitality Challenge

Overall winners, Fife College

Overall winners, Fife College

After months of build-up culminating in a thrilling live-cook off final, a team from Fife College have been crowned winners of the Brakes Scotland Student Hospitality Challenge, sponsored by HIT Scotland and The Federation of Scottish Chefs. Four colleges from across Scotland (Edinburgh College, Fife College, South Lanarkshire College and City of Glasgow College) went head to head for the top spot on the 30th of May at South Lanarkshire College in East Kilbride.

This year’s competition challenged teams to create a three-course menu inspired by the theme ‘Best of Scottish Cuisine’ in just 1 hour and 45 minutes. The challenge began back in March 2019 when college teams were invited to submit a menu, methodology and a costed list of ingredients in response to the ‘Best of Scottish Cuisine’ theme. It was also a requirement that the starter OR the dessert had a mini plates/tapas style theme, to incorporate the increasingly popular street food trend. Each team was also asked to source all of the food within a one hundred mile radius of their respective college.

Terri Scott & Eilidh Smith, chefs from winning Fife College team prepared a fantastic menu. To start was Ceviche of Hand Dived Scallop, Buttery Croute, Avocado Puree, Squid Ink, Baked Isle of Jura New Potato, Anster Cheese Espuma, Wild Garlic Oil Smoked Inverawe Eel and heritage Beetroot with Horseradish Crème Fraiche. The main course was a seared rump of Scottish Spring Lamb, Turnips & Carrots, Creamed Kale, Mutton Scotch Pie & Brown Sauce. To follow was a dessert of caramelised White Chocolate Ganache, Dundee Orange Marmalade and Mascarpone Sorbet.

The Fife College front of house team, comprised of Holly Wilkins and Norry Smith were responsible for creating an aperitif for their guests, again using Scottish ingredients. They were also tasked with pairing wines to complement each course menu, followed by a coffee of their choice. Holly and Norry’s attentive approach to their guests and knowledge of their menu, combined with their team mates’ delicious dishes, bagged them first prize despite very tough competition from the other colleges.

Prizes were also awarded to the best back of house team and the best front of house teams:

FOH winners City of Glasgow College

FOH winners City of Glasgow College

  • Winners of the “Best Back of House Team” winning a trip to represent Scotland at the Culinary Olympics in Stuttgart in February 2020: Terri Scott & Eilidh Smith of Fife College.

  • Winners of the “Best front of House Team” winning a scholarship from the Hospitality Industry Trust that includes a two-day work experience placement at a top resort hotel in London: Syke Rose Gough & Ioana Popescu of City of Glasgow College.

The competing students were judged by Kevin MacGilvary (Catering and Hospitality Manager at The National Trust for Scotland), Joe Queen (Past President of the Federation of Chefs Scotland), Andy Temple (Executive Chef at Six by Nico) Rick Houston (Operations Director at Buzzworks) and Derek Lockett (Senior Business Develop Chef at Brakes Scotland). Students were judged using the World Association of Chefs societies (WACS) criteria ensuring the highest and most consistent judging standards.

John McLintock, Regional Operations Manager at Brakes Scotland said: “The standard of cooking throughout this year’s challenge has been superb. The front of house teams worked exceptionally hard to ensure a smooth dining experience for our guests. Today, the team from Fife College really stood out - they are very deserving winners. Experiences like the Student Hospitality Challenge allow students to gain real life kitchen experiences, from working out costings and sourcing local ingredients, right down to pairing wines and ensuring a smooth service when under pressure. All of the students today have done very well. They have a lot potential and I am certain they all have very bright futures ahead.”

Alyson Gray